Playwright: Dominic Orlando. At: TimeLine ( sic ) Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave. Tickets: 773-281-8463; www.timelinetheatre.com; $39-$52. Runs through: Dec. 21
I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I believe Oswald acted alone. Still, I know there are vast international crime networks doing business with each other far outside any law. I know, too, our government does business with them in the shadowy world of espionage, arms dealing, counterterrorism, revolution and counter-revolution. This play is about all that and purportedly based on fact. If it's merely half-true, then most of us live within a global conspiracy, the sole purpose of which is the retention of power and wealth for their own sake by those who already have them, regardless of systems of government or economics.
Some of the play's claims are well-documented: the multi-national criminality of the now-defunct ( or replaced, more likely ) Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the Iran-Contra scandal, various covert operations of the CIA and collusion between the Department of Justice ( DOJ ) and other government agencies to suppress investigations of extra-legal government actions. Danny Casolaro ( Kyle Hatley ), a freelance reporter in the 1980s, was investigating a monumental web of beyond-the-law activity during the Reagan presidency that linked the FBI, CIA, DOJ, National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, organized crime, international drug trafficking and MCA, the giant Hollywood talent agency. For his efforts, Casolaro may have been murdered in 1991, although others call his death a suicide.
Set four years after his death, the play is narrated by Casolaro's cousin ( Demetrius Troy ), a stand-in for the playwright. He introduces us via flashbacks to Danny, moles, spies, computer geniuses, thugs and power brokers. The play is too true to be good ( to borrow George Bernard Shaw's phrase ), but it's riveting and relentless, a rip-snorting story for everyone and a scary confirmation for conspiracy theorists. Every President may not be a crook and a liar, but all of themeven Obamaemploy crooks and liars, at tax payer expense, who think the Constitution is for other people.
TimeLine veteran director Nick Bowling keeps the pot boiling at a brisk pace in this production, ignoringas the playwright doessubtleties of character development or dimension. Most of the characters are types, even though based on real people. Indeed, the actors' make-up matches lobby photos of the real originals. Casolaro was athletic, good-looking and blond and so is Hatley, who conveys the obsessive drive and ego of a journalist hooked on a story. ( Why, for example, do journalists today want to be in Syria or Liberia? )
Mark Richards conveys geeky, fervid energy as a science wiz turned whistle-blower, and Philip Earl Johnson provides congenial-but-threatening bonhomie as a powerful string-puller. They are opposite ends of a spectrum so profoundly amoral and cynical as to render meaningless any definition of corruption. Decide for yourself how much is true.